This isn't the best thing I have ever written but I wanted to post it nonetheless and get your opinion on it. This is the Ben/Olivia oneshot rough draft.
The best time to do laundry in Jim’s opinion was on a Friday night. The laundry mat down the street from his apartment was usually completely deserted and he was able to bring his work along with him, getting much of it done without interruptions. He didn’t mind spending his Friday nights in a laundry mat. There were always Saturdays that could be spent drinking at the bar with his friends. He found that if he did laundry on Friday nights and brought his work with him, he could get it done and not worry about it for the rest of the weekend. And since this past week had just been mid-terms, he had five classes worth of tests to grade and he knew the students would start pestering him for their grades as soon as Monday morning.
Walking in through the door of the laundry mat with his duffle bag slung over one shoulder and his briefcase in the other, he saw that someone else had had the same idea as he did. She was a woman in her mid-twenties with dark brown hair with a natural wave to it cut down to a little below her jaw line. Her skin was pale and he could see faded freckles across her nose as she stood at the table, folding towels and he stood across from her, dumping the bag over to begin separating his clothes. She lifted her head and gave him a polite smile before resuming her folding. She was attractive but he didn’t dare talk to her. He wasn’t going to be that creep that wouldn’t even let a woman do laundry without being bothered. Besides, he was not blind. He was in his early forties with a balding head and a less than perfectly in shape body. She would have absolutely zero interest in someone like him. Girls that looked like her never looked at guys like him with any type of interest.
Jim turned to dump a load of colored clothes into a washing machine just as the door opened again and a man around the same age as the woman stormed into the room. His dark auburn hair was buzzed close to his head and he had a scruffy face from forgoing shaving. His blue eyes flashed dangerously at the woman but she didn’t even look up to acknowledge his presence.
“Okay, Olivia,” the man said and he could hear a slight accent to his tone. Jim couldn’t place from where it was from though. “What did I do now?”
The woman, apparently named Olivia, glanced at him before turning back to the dryer behind her and pulling out an armful of bed sheets. She placed them on the table and began folding them, all the while remaining silent.
The man sighed with annoyance and ran a hand over his head. “So that’s how this is gonna go tonight? You getting pissed off at me for nothing? And on this night, of all nights, you decide to pull this shit on me? Fantastic!” He exclaimed sarcastically.
As the man continued to glower at her and Olivia began folding the sheets, Jim fed the machine a few quarters, chose his wash cycle then sat down at a nearby table by the window, trying not to overhear but finding it rather difficult not to since they were the only three people present at the moment. Nonetheless, he opened his brief case and took out a stack of the tests that needed to be graded.
“Is this about your bleedin’ hair?” The man suddenly asked and then realization dawned on his face. “It is! This whole soddin’ thing is about your hair! You are unbelievable!”
Olivia finally looked at him and he was shocked to see her look at the man with such fury in her dark brown eyes. “This isn’t just about my hair. This is about you being an insensitive prick as usual, Ben.”
“How am I being insensitive?” The man named Ben demanded to know as he folded his arms across his chest. “I’m not the one who told you to cut your hair! Why did you do that anyway? I loved your hair and now you chopped it all off!”
Jim closed his eyes for a moment in a silent pray for Ben. Apparently, the young man didn’t know that one should never, ever question a woman’s hairstyle. And from the look Olivia was giving him at that moment, Ben had learned that lesson a little bit too late. He was done for.
“Of course I chopped it off. You were always bitching about it!” She suddenly shrieked and Ben looked surprised at his girlfriend’s, or at least he assumed she was Ben’s girlfriend, outburst. “Telling me how I got hair all over your pillows and sweatshirts and anytime you vacuumed, you made it a point to always say I was like a damn cat with hairballs all over your freaking apartment!”
“I was teasing you!” He nearly shouted. “Jesus Christ, Livi! I thought that’s what we do. I tease you, you hit me, bam. We’re fine again! Why is this such a big fucking deal?”
“Because Ben! It is when I make this drastic change to myself and all you can ask is what the hell did I do to myself!” She slapped him in the chest but he didn’t even flinch. “You’re my boyfriend! You’re supposed to support me when I do something like this!” She grabbed one of her short locks and pulled on it in case he didn’t know what they were talking about.
“Something like this?” Ben echoed. “You mean something completely irrational and insane? Is that what you mean?” Olivia glared at him before moving past him and stalking towards one of the washing machines where her load of whites were, waiting to be dried. “I’m not going to lie to you. You know how much I hate lies.”
She turned and stared at him. “I heard you, Ben, talking to Jamie on the phone yesterday. You were talking about girls and how your ideal one has short hair so it shows off her neck. I thought that you wanted a girl with short hair.”
Jim watched the two as they stared one another down and then Ben did something that Jim couldn’t believe he had the guts to do. Ben started laughing. If possible, the aura of fury surrounding Olivia seemed to only intensify. Jim was beginning to think that he was moments away from witnessing a homicide.
“You asshole,” Olivia spat at him, throwing her clothes into an open dryer. “I hate you.”
Ben had stopped laughing but he was still smiling. “And I hate how fucking insecure you can be. Jesus, Liv. We’ve been dating for how long now? Almost a year? And you’re worried enough about our relationship to go and chop your hair off just because I mentioned to Jamie that I, AT A TIME, preferred girls with short hair?” He paused. “Our relationship really sucks if you think you need to be changing for me like that and you think I WANT you to be changing.”
Olivia stared at him, crossing her arms over her chest. “Yeah,” she said softly. “Our relationship really sucks.”
The laundry mat was completely silent except for the hums of the two washers entering their final wash cycle. No one moved. No one made a sound. Jim stared down at the test he was in the middle of grading, feeling like he should get up and leave but he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. He had just witnessed a private conversation between two people and he was somewhat certain that he had just witnessed a private breakup.
Ben clenched his jaw tightly then with a heavy sigh, he reached into his back pocket, pulling a packet of cigarettes out. “You drive me fucking insane,” he informed her before turning and stalking out of the laundry mat. Jim was certain that if he had been able to slam the door behind him, he would have.
Olivia watched him go and when he disappeared around the corner, she closed her eyes, trying to keep herself from crying. She took a shaky breath and then opening her eyes again, she began once more to pull her clothes from the washing machine and placing them into the dryer. Jim tried not to watch but he couldn’t help himself. She didn’t break down and cry like a lot of girls would have after their boyfriends of nearly a year had just stormed out. Instead, Olivia pulled herself up onto the folding table and played with a lock of her hair as she stared, memorized, deep in thought, at the turning clothes in the dryer.
Jim had gotten through grading the first stack of tests and he reached for another one from his briefcase when the door opened once more and Ben stalked through, clasping something in his hand. Olivia stared at him, surprised, but she remained sitting on the table. Apparently, she wasn’t like most other girls who would have leapt up at the sight of their boyfriends returning.
“If I wanted you changing into someone you’re not, I wouldn’t have bought this four fucking months ago. I would have waited until you were molded into someone else,” he said with a hard tone and tossed her a velvet square ring box.
Olivia stared at him for a few prolonged minutes before looking down at the box she had caught. She didn’t appear to be breathing anymore. Jim leaned forward in his chair, wanting to see if it was what he thought it was. Olivia audibly gasped upon opening the box and seeing a diamond ring. She stared at her, her mouth open in shock. Ben took a step towards her.
“If you want to cut your hair, fine. Cut your hair. I don’t care. I’ll think you’re beautiful no matter how you look,” he told her, reaching out and wrapping a lock around his finger before letting it go and shoving his hands into his jean pockets. “But don’t do anything just because you think it’s what I want. Because, Liv, one of the things I love most about you is your sheer stubbornness and your unwillingness to bend when it comes to anything.” Olivia smiled and he took another step towards her. “You do what you want to do and I love you for that. If I wanted some submissive Barbie Doll with short hair then that’s exactly who I would be with. I wouldn’t have spent a year with you if I wanted someone completely different than you.”
Olivia laughed softly. “Are you going to ask me anytime soon, Ben, or will you keep talking like this until all of my laundry is done?”
“Damn, woman!” He growled. “You won’t even let me ask you to marry me the way I want to, will you?” She laughed again and he came to her, standing in between her legs and cupping her head in his hands. “Now listen. I’m not asking you. I’m telling you. You, Olivia Grange, will marry me.”
She quirked an eyebrow up at that. “Will I now?” She was fighting back a smile and she bit her lower lip when one hand slipped down to cup the side of her neck, now completely exposed due to her shorter hair. “And why will I be doing this?”
He grinned for the first time since he came back. “Because I’m not going to survive if I don’t have you being a pain in my ass for the rest of our lives.”
She smiled, laughing. “Romantic, Ben. Very romantic.”
He stared at her then took the ring box from her, plucking the ring out and grabbing her left hand. He slid the ring easily onto her third finger and continued staring at her. “I’ll have you know that you completely ruined this for me. I wasn’t going to do this in some laundry mat. I have bouquets of heather in my apartment and music and everything.”
She slid her arms up onto his shoulders, locking her hands behind his neck. “This suits us a bit more, don’t you think? I thought we agreed to leave the clichéd romance up to Jamie and Violet.”
Ben snickered, wrapping his arms around her waist, pulling her nearer to the edge of the table. “Please, Liv. We’re the cliché. We always have been.”
“I know,” she sighed as if it pained her to admit it. She then beamed up at him. “I hate you,” she said sweetly, softly.
Ben grinned. “I hate you, too. But I really don’t mind your hair. It’s easier for me to do this…” he dipped his head down and buried his face in the crook of her neck, kissing the delicate skin there, tickling her and making her laugh. She squirmed a little in his arms and he laughed, pulling back. “I love you,” he whispered so softly, it was almost missed amongst the humming of the machines.
Olivia smiled. “I love you too,” she whispered before tilting her head up and pressing her lips to his.
Jim smiled before looking down at the tests in front of him. His clothes were still sitting in the washing machine and he still had three more loads to do but he didn’t feel it right to stand up right then. Nothing happened in the laundry mat on Friday nights and when it did… Jim didn’t feel like interrupting it.